roman à clef

a bit older than the car

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along

I keep missing exciting and historic things. The other day, I was down at Niche Frames in Stokes Croft, getting some glass cut for picture frames. While I was waiting, I popped over to Primark, because I wanted some new combat trousers. My last pair is falling to bits after ten years. They are about the only item of clothing left from my pre-transition days, and very handy for climbing trees and scrambling around under cars.

I was happy to find that Primark still stock them, and they are still very cheap. So I got some. And then I picked up the glass and headed home.

So I missed Ian Goggin and Kristin Skarsholt, who were round the corner at the Registry Office, being refused a civil partnership.

Yesterday I learned how to pick locks. Annie had closed her filing cabinet, and it had locked shut, and she couldn’t find the key. And since I was passing that way anyway (the trousers turned out to be too small, so I was taking them back. Evidently sizing has become much more stingy over the last ten years, hem hem) I dropped by. I jiggled a bent nail around inside the lock and, much to my surprise, it pinged open. “A new career beckons!” I thought.

Heading down to the city centre, the traffic was going slowly and there were police everywhere. As I rode along Queens Road, I stood up on the pedals to get a better view ahead, and ….my boot caught the key of the lock on the back wheel, and it snapped off and bounced down the road. (It’s one of those Dutch locks, where the key remains in place until you engage the lock and then remove the key). A police car indulgently stopped while I retrieved the key stub and pulled into the museum forecourt to examine the damage. I decided that I had better go straight home and fix it, as I couldn’t really leave the bike anywhere like that.

So I missed the great student demonstration against the cuts.

Back home, I assembled an assortment of bits of wire and prongs and snipe-nosed pliers, and sat on the pavement prodding and probing the broken bit of key in the lock. I finally got it out. While I was working at it a few people walked by, taking no apparent notice, apart from one chap with a shaved head and sticky-out arms, who muttered quietly as he passed “You ought to watch you don’t get caught…” . Thanks, mate. So I was an honorary bike thief for ten minutes, anyway.

It was too late in the day by now to have another go cycling to the centre, so I hopped into the car, and …. the starter motor jammed in the engaged position. Very annoying, not least because it was new only 8 weeks ago.

it started, now it's finished

So it turned out to be just one of those days.

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10 Responses to roman à clef

  1. Harry says:

    “the trousers turned out to be too small, so I was taking them back. Evidently sizing has become much more stingy over the last ten years, hem hem”

    You won’t get far adjusting the hems, dear. You need to open out the seams at the hips >:)

  2. Caroline says:

    You are just doing this to bulk out the fixing a Moggy section. I last bought a pair of denims to crawl under my fathers car for him, only seemed fair since he had just had a heart attack and would never get to do it himself again. That was 25 years ago, do they still make them? What do you do with all those pockets in odd places?

    What happen to the expression “double Dutch”? There are so many things wrong with that lock idea and a poorly made key is only the start of them but surely a lock which merely stops one wheel turning will not stop your transport from being removed while you while away the morning sketching old stones.

  3. Jenny Alto says:

    Don’t worry, I missed a student demo too. With a sit-in and all!

    At least Lucas starters are easy to get hold of, but that’s not very faithful service! Did later Minors not come with a hole in the front for a starting handle?

  4. Dru says:

    Indeed, Harry. It’s easier on me to think of myself as a 14 rather than a thirty-(hrumph)…

    The pockets are v useful for tools, Caroline. I rather wish that they also had the long thin pocket that decent overalls always come with, that are just the right size for an 8″ Bahco adjustable spanner, the most widely useful thing in my toolkit.

    Apart from the occasional bent key incident, the lock is a really good design; I can hop off, click the lock to, extract the key and walk away in seconds. This is good for popping into shops… for longer stays or in dodgier areas, there is a cable which is plugs into the lock.

    The faulty starter was a new-built one from Lucas in India, Jenny; someone on the Mog forum said that they’d been through three new ones in short order, before replacing with a recon. I’ve now got a recon in place, and it sounds v healthy. Yes, the hole for the starter is indeed there, and that’s how I got it going to get to the dealers yesterday!

  5. Delia says:

    I don’t know, Dru, I really don’t – I go to Hull for just 48 hours without remembering to take my passwords etc and LOOK at what you get up to.

  6. I’m with Delia on this one. On an average day you manage to miss doing more stuff than I would ever consider actually doing. While you were perfecting your thieving skills (twice!), I went to the library. I sat down. I read some books. And at lunchtime I went to the King’s Cafe for beans fried bread and bacon. That was the high point.

  7. Philip Watson says:

    There’s a lot to be said for any bicycle security device which is both robust and quick to apply/remove. I found that they’re only rarely both. Eventually I settled on two yards of half ton working load galvanised chain wound around frame, lamp-post, and both wheel rims, then secured with a large padlock through as many links as could be gathered together. I came back to my bike one Saturday morning in Corn Street, to find a policeman looking at it with what appeared to be extreme distaste. ‘Is this your bicycle, Sir?’ he asked, only just avoiding pronouncing the last word with the hard C. I replied in the affirmative, as I started to unwind the chain. He watched me in silence for a while, then muttered ‘Good God’ and walked away, shaking his head.

  8. Dru says:

    Welcome back, Delia! -I had to take the battery out yesterday because it had caught a cold, but that’s another story again…
    I think it would have been my high point too, Richard. Do they do black pudding, though?
    I guess that this Corn Street incident was a while ago, Philip- a bike in the centre can be as secure as you like, but it would probably get trashed if you left it overnight these days

  9. anjiknut says:

    Lock picking, bike stealing.. let me know when you want to rob a bank I know how to do the twirly bit (combination locks?).

    Now it’s funny you should mention Lucas. My Grandad was a tool maker for them until 1973 – obviously they went downhill after that. This week my retired history teacher were looking at the history of Joseph Lucas during her English lesson.

    It’s a good idea to try on before you buy. The sizes become smaller every season 😉

  10. anjiknut says:

    Oops – not very good English, I should have put “My retired history teacher and I”

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